Exercising Snacking and Adding Movement to Our Days

Always listen to your Doctor or Cardiac Rehab Specialist when choosing to exercise, this blog is for information purposes and does not replace the advice of Health Professionals.

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology states that Older Adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. Physical Activity reduces our risks of chronic disease, and can also prevent falls, maintain independence and have a positive impact on our mental health- but finding time can be tricky when life gets busy!

Enter exercise snacking! The University of Bath (2019) describes exercise snacking as structuring exercise into short bouts that are performed twice daily, are safe for the home, and don’t require sports clothing or equipment. These five exercises (Sit to Stands, Calf Raises, Seated Leg extensions, Marching and Standing leg curls) each performed for one minute allowed participants to reach 70 mins of physical activity for the week and proved a promising strategy to engage older adults in physical activity.

The notion of “little and often” can easily be applied to other ways we can sneak physical activity into our days in such a way that it does not interrupt our daily routines, exercise snacking can also improve our technique and familiarity with movements, allowing us to get even more out of group exercise classes and sessions with an exercise physiologist.

Here are some Ideas to sneak in some exercise snacking into your day:

  • Doing 1 minute of your favourite pulse rehab exercises during commercial breaks
  • Rising up onto your toes and back down while standing in line
  • Parking your car just a little farther away from the door, when safe to do so
  • Taking a moment to stretch, and move your joints while relaxing at home

Remember, Intensity is everything! What do we mean when we say Moderate to Vigorous Activity, how hard do we need to be working to meet those requirements?

  • Moderate Physical Activity will noticeably accelerate the heart rate, while still allowing us to speak, but not sing. Think a brisk walk, raking leaves, playing with children, or dancing.
  • Vigorous Physical Activity refers to a substantial increase in breath and heart rate, allowing us to only say a few words before pausing for a breath. Vigorous physical activities could include shoveling heavy snow, swimming quickly, an aerobics class, or uphill cycling.

These little movements can be a great zero cost supplement to group and in-person exercise, and offer a great opportunity to de stress, relax and focus as well.

Source cited:
Perkin, O. J., McGuigan, P. M., & Stokes, K. A. (2019). Exercise Snacking to Improve Muscle Function in Healthy Older Adults: A Pilot Study. Journal of Aging Research, 2019, 1-9. [7516939]. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/7516939